Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Warrior and the Priest



As primer or possible alternative there is John Milton Cooper's much shorter The Warrior and the Priest.  This appears to be the full text.  Cooper compared and contrasted the approaches of  Roosevelt and Wilson, which he regarded as the forefathers of modern politics.  Not since Jefferson and Hamilton, he noted in his Preface, had there been such a vociferous debate over the direction of the country and the character of the nation.  Far from backing down, Wilson held his ground, as sure in his "rightness" as Roosevelt was in his.

The first part deals with their political paths, humorously entitled "The Dude and the Professor."  Cooper noted that Roosevelt consciously re-invented himself in personally heroic terms, while Wilson also overcame adversities but in a more quiet, unassuming way.  Apparently, Wilson suffered from dyslexia, which is why he was so late in enjoying books.  Whereas Roosevelt devoured books with the same gusto as he did his meals, Wilson preferred to savor his reading material, often reading the same books over again.

65 comments:

  1. I remember reading years ago where Roosevelt referred to Wilson as the 'textbook idiot'. This sounds like just the type of book I'd like to read.

    I'll ask the local library to get me a copy.

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  2. Roosevelt had no shortage of ad hominems for Wilson, but as Cooper points out there were far more similarities in their positions than differences. It was more a difference of personalities -- the outsized one of TR vs. the introverted one of Wilson.

    Reading Morris, I think that in many ways Roosevelt undermined the progressive movement in the US by being so sharply critical of Wilson, who had adopted far more of the progressive agenda than had Taft during his four years in office. But, Roosevelt just couldn't bring himself to accept the Democrats and 12 years of Harding, Coolidge and Hoover pretty much buried any hint of progressivism in the Republican Party. Roosevelt also seemed to distance himself from the Progressive Party itself, choosing not to run in 1916 and pressing for reunification in 1920 before he died in 1919. It would take his "fifth cousin" to revive progressivism in 1932.

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  3. I read Cooper's book and found it really good, fast reading. I'd join a discussion even though Morris would be my first choice...by the way THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MARK TWAIN is published and I dowloaded a sample to my Kindle. I'll read it in a day or so. The hard print copy is 700+ pages.Are there any reviews out yet

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  4. I ordered the Twain as well and am looking forward to its arrival.

    Morris's is the better book. It is richer and filled with more detail in TR's post-presidency. Morris doesn't seem to like Wilson very much, whereas Cooper is more even-handed.

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  5. I have it coming, too. I haven't read any reviews but did see a story in the NY Times about it:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/10/books/10twain.html

    Maybe we can discuss some of it here.

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  6. I just word from my local library that the book is on its way to me & will get it soon.

    Remember at one time way back in the old NYT forum when I suggested that we read Vito Marcantonio's I VOTE MY CONSCIENCE ? After all these years there is a movement to continue his work ~ a new site was created for this purpose:

    http://www.vitomarcantonio.org/

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  7. Cooper adopts the method of parallel chapters, at least through the first two parts, in charting their respective political rise. They came to the WH from virtually polar opposite directions, yet as Cooper notes, shared many of the same beliefs in strong federal government and both looked to Lincoln as a model for their administrations.

    Roosevelt seemed to rue that he didn't have a war or some defining issue to challenge him in the WH. So, he went about making the WH into an image of himself. Cooper says he weakened his hand by declaring in advance he wouldn't run for a third term. Had he done so, Cooper suggests he may have radically reshaped the Republican Party, but as it was it fell back on its Old Guard positions, easily manipulating Taft during his four years in office.

    Wilson also lifted the Democratic Party only to lose control of it in the end when he failed to get the League of Nations ratified. A stroke pretty much debilitated him for the final year and a half. Cooper compares this to the battles he had at Princeton trying to reshape the university along more modern lines. He had also succumbed to a stroke during those years, but was able to recover.

    Really good reading, as Cooper doesn't have a favorite here. He points out the strengths and weaknesses of both.

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  8. Trippler, can you also get on the list now for the big TR bio when it comes in at the library? Might make it possible to get it when it comes in. Should make for an interesting discussion.

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  9. Avrds,

    Good idea ~ The St Paul system doesn't have it as of yet. But I just put thru a request in the Dakota County system and it is quite convenient from where I live.

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  10. Interesting chapter in the book where Wilson initially aligned himself with the Democratic machine when first broaching politics in 1904. Cooper notes that he came out on record as supporting states rights and going with the anti-Bryan wing of the party, but returned to his pro-Federalist position a couple years later. Cooper thinks this was because of his disillusionment with Princeton alumni who defeated his "quad plan" for the university. Wilson also suffered his first major stroke during this time.

    By the time he ran for Governor of NJ he presented himself as a progressive, adopting much of Bryan's agenda, but still seeking a middle way so as not to completely upset the Old Guard of the Democratic Party. Like Roosevelt, he had the ability to bring warring factions together under one tent, with his beautifully nuanced speeches that had attracted a lot of attention. An ability he honed at Princeton.

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  11. I'm beginning to think Obama may very well be a Wilsonian. A lot of irony in this.

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  12. I see I'm not the only who thinks this way,

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/05/AR2009060502615.html

    There are also some negative appraisals of Obama along the same line,

    http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/03/obama_and_wilson.html

    although it appears the "American Thinker" in this article is not very bright.

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  13. Trippler -- that's great! I was hoping they'd let you request it early. I don't think the book will be available for a few more weeks yet, but hopefully you'll be at the top of the list when it is.

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  14. Gintaras, you're making that book on Wilson and Roosevelt sound very attractive. I'm totally "booked" for the rest of the year, or I'd join you and Trippler in reading it.

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  15. ~ dyslexia ~

    As I get older I become more amazed at how prevalent this problem is among certain scholars. This after having suffered from this condition and seeing several of my law school classmates enduring the rigors of school work while suffering from the heart break of dyslexia. On top of all that I am partly learning disabled with a p!ss poor memory. This is why I am forced to re-read books two or three times in order to finally understand what the heck I just read!!

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  16. ''Warrior & Priest'' just arrived but I notice we now have three threads on that book. Don't know which one to use for comments.

    Which one do you suggest?

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  17. We can stay with here, trip. I posted the other threads to point specifically at key works that came up in both Cooper's and Morris's books, with links to those works.

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  18. I'll catch up with you in the next few days--I still have to finish Chernow's GEORGE WASHINGTON

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  19. I just received a copy of TR Abroad, which maybe I can read next and comment on as you discuss the other book about TR and Wilson.

    Robert, you'll have to let us know how the Washington book is. I don't agree with his politics, but I really enjoyed Chernow's book on Hamilton.

    And good luck with the computer.

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  20. I'm not familiar with his politics---is he conytoversial there. I've read most of his books---all of which are excellent, including WASHINGTON. I'll post more on the weekend after I finish it. Meanwhile,except for two persistent pop-ups, Im fine I have AOL and INTERNET EXPLORER. Where do I go to eliminate MSN's persist request I download their intrnet services? I forgot how to do it.

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  21. What are his politics. How do I eliminate pop-ups? I forgot..

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  22. I'll post on WASHINGTON on the weeken when I finish... I'll get WARRIOR % PRIEST and start re-reading it and Brans'STRANGE DEATH OF AMERCAN LIBERALISM?

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  23. Is this Chernow's Washington? Will set up a separate heading for comments. Have my sister in town at the moment. Will be back in full swing next week.

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  24. Robert, you may have a "preference" tab in your browser menu -- look under the main menu tab or "file" or maybe "view" (all these terms!). I use Firefox and mine is under the Firefox tab (click firefox) in "content" (click on content) -- there's a place to check "block pop ups." It doesn't catch them all, but most of them.

    As for Chernow, as I recall he's the darling of the neo-cons, singing the praises of all the great "titans" of capitalism, and putting one of the founders in this tradition. That said, I really liked his book on Hamilton. He may have ideological motives but I thought the book was very well written.

    I look forward to reading Washington since I have never been all that impressed with him as we've discussed before. Always seemed like the tallest man in the room, who showed up in uniform. And as I recall, he didn't too well as a military leader either. Never have quite figured out his success, except for his height and equestrian skills and, thus, they figured he'd be a good figure head for the nation. And it turned out he was.

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  25. TR Abroad appears to track similar terrain as -- I'm assuming -- the Morris bio, picking up after the end of TR's presidency. So far he's focusing on the big African hunt. Not sure this will prove to be much of a book, but I'll stick with it for now.

    It says that Kermit took thousands of photographs. Now that would be a resource worth looking at!

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  26. ''Roosevelt consciously re-invented himself in personally heroic terms''

    'Embellishment' is the term used by Cooper for TR. While he claimed to have been so solicitous of urban poor, he ''was never basically humanitarian or compassionate. He was already worried about problems of wealth and poverty, but he cared about their effects less on the victims than on the nation's strength and unity.''

    p 37

    Thus, he moved about with Jacob Riis but only in order to give the appearance of sharing his concern for the victims of urban blight. In addition he gave the appearance of being a ride 'em cowboy type out West and a tough soldier in Cuba. These appearances hyped up his reputation but were nothing more than public masks designed to promote his political career ambitions.

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  27. That's a provocative statement to read first thing this a.m.!

    I can see where his support of "progressive" causes would contribute to the strength and unity of the country -- oh, that we should have others today that thought so -- but not sure that the cowboy image was just meant for political consumption. I thought his go-get-'em image had more to do with overcoming his weak health and, in the case of his adventures out west, overcoming his weak heart after the death of his wife and mother. And probably generally overcoming a diminished sense of self.

    In TR Abroad, at least two people he meets refers to him as (still) being like a boy after he's in theory through with politics.

    I think it was Carl Akley, who runs into him on safari in Africa (how is such a thing possible?), who wrote that he was predisposed to dislike TR but in the end was swept up by his youthful enthusiasm for life.

    Another woman writes that he was extraordinarily ugly, but full of enthusiasm -- like a boy. TR defined himself, according to the woman, as radical internally, tremendously imperial externally.

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  28. TR a Tea Bagger? Hmmmmm.....

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/01/opinion/01morris.html?hp

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  29. ''American Progress'' or manifest destiny formed the basis for much of 19th century politics. Once the frontier was conquered political pundits sought to expand this form of political-racialist ideology to conquests overseas. Both TR and WW believed in this ideal. This is why they attempted to justify interventionism in Cuba, Santo Domingo, the Philippines, and ultimately World War II.

    This is Manifest Destiny illustrated in the 1800s:

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/12/American_progress.JPG/788px-American_progress.JPG

    here is the ideal illustrated later on:

    http://warandgame.files.wordpress.com/2008/03/great_white_fleet_sails-708953.jpg

    Wilson said the interventionism in WW I was necessary in order to preserve democracy and self determination for the world. But his scope failed to include places such as India:

    http://www.historycooperative.org/journals/ahr/111.5/manela.html

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  30. Cooper eases back a little on TR in subsequent chapters, but I do get the feeling that ultimately Cooper sides with the Priest and not the Warrior. He gets into some very interesting thoughts on their racial views in later chapters, noting that TR never could bring himself to really identify with minorities (but then I dooubt neither could Wilson), and Cooper even called TR's views on women's suffrage "expedient," in regard to the 1912 election.

    TR certainly did have a strong "paternalistic" streak but I don't think that stopped him from feeling empathy for those less fortunate. Morris notes this repeatedly in his bio, especially in regard to TR's appreciation of the crew and natives he came in contact with on the Brazilian expedition.

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  31. Perhaps that is because he did not feel any form of threat from those particular people as opposed to others. Consider these words:

    'in December 1901, TR called military intervention among ''barbarous and semi-barbarous people ... a most regrettable but necessary international police duty which must be performed for the welfare of mankind ... wars with uncivilized powers are largely mere matters of international police duty, essentially for the welfare of the world.''

    pp 71, 72

    This idea was called the ''Roosevelt Corollary''. A few decades later Hitler said almost precisely the same thing in order to justify his imperialist genocidal campaigns. Luckily the world joined to stop it. Imagine if the world showed the same guts and principle by doing the same to Roosevelt or to Bush.

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  32. TR was hardly alone in these sentiments. Wilson also had a pretty strong interventionist streak, according to Cooper, but framed it along more diplomatic lines. All though, he botched the situation in Mexico pretty badly.

    Roosevelt felt many of these "semi-barbarous" country were not able to rule themselves and retained a "colonial" view in this regard. It took quite a few "civil wars" before other world leaders shed their colonial views.

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  33. The book I'm reading on TR abroad is not particularly good, but it does excerpt from a lot of TR's correspondence and speeches he gave.

    He arrived in North Africa three weeks after the (Christian) Egyptian prime minister was killed by Muslims, who thought him a tool of the British. This reminds me of what Hobsbawm said about the Muslim religion spreading in Africa as a result of the occupation of their countries.

    TR spoke to the Egyptian officers saying that English rule in the Sudan was "really the rule of civilization, and that every believer in justice and progress all over the world should uphold it."

    He urged the military to stay out of politics speaking, in his words, with "unmistakable plainness as to their duty of absolute loyalty," and the "ruin which would come to both Egypt and the Sudan unless the power and prestige of English rule were kept undiminished."

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  34. One thing that Morris says in that op-ed about Roosevelt is that, while he was racially prejudiced, TR would probably be an Obama supporter. And my guess is he's right.

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  35. 'Obama supporter'

    Gee, I gotta think about that one. But it does bring to mind something we have discussed in the past ~ that while FDR and the Progressive Democrats are credited with bringing about the reforms which ended the Great Depression and fixed up the mess created by Hoover, these reforms were invented by Progressive Republicans.

    While TR was mediating the Russo-Japanese war, he pushed through legislation that enforced railroad regulation and consumer protection. He also took forest land for preservation just before the Congressional mandate for doing so expired. Interestingly, while pushing for these reforms, he warned against doing too much reform at once and called those who advocated reform acceleration ''muck rakers''. He did not renounce his 'conservative' outlook and said 'we must not promise what we do not intend to perform'. In that regard, how would he react to Obama's promise of immediate health care reform only to see him virtually destroy it by his failure to push for it and by his watering down of its best reforms??


    pp 79-81

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  36. I'll post thoughts on Obama in another forum, but TR hinted at much progressive legislation, but actually pushed very little of it through during his two terms. The park lands were done mostly by executive authority, and more in response to his own passion for the outdoors than any particular agenda. Even the anti-trust legislation, as we know it today, came during the Wilson administration. To read Cooper, Wilson more than TR is the father of modern-day "liberalism." By 1916 TR had renounced much of the progressivism that had made him a driving force, even to the point of coming out against Wilson on 8-hour workdays for railroad workers, something he initially tried to push through Congress. I think Obama owes more to Wilson than TR.

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  37. WW started out in academia with great initial success in expanding the College of New Jersey (Princeton) and making it into the exemplary Ivy League institution it became. But his plans were too ambitious and the school's executives quashed them. Similarly, WW's early administration was a success with numerous reforms created. But his second administration resulted in a needless and costly war, suppressive and illegal Palmer Raids, and the failed League of Nations. Americans became disgusted with him, the Dems, and soon gave great power to the GOP with its pledge of 'return to normalcy'.

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  38. I don't see any comments on Cooper ~ have people lost interest?

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  39. Trippler, I'm enjoying your comments. I actually have the book, but have my hands full with other reading, and don't know enough about Wilson to really comment. I think it was suggested to carry us through to the Morris bio which I'm assuming is coming soon?

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  40. Just about finished. Two chapters to go. I think the most interesting chapters are in the last section where Cooper compares and contrasts their positions on WWI, noting that Roosevelt first suggested a "League of Nations" but withdrew his support for such an idea once Wilson put the idea forward in Congress.

    Cooper notes that the second term of Wilson's presidency represented a decisive turning point in the positions of the two parties, with the Democrats became more internationalist and the Republicans becoming increasingly isolationist. Even Roosevelt retreated on many of his previously held views once the idea of a "League of Nations" became more and more plausible. Seems he only wanted a "League" on his terms.

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  41. What I found interesting in the short book on TR abroad was that in exchange for Carnegie's support of his "expedition" -- more like a safari but he didn't want it considered that -- TR agreed to work on a peace mission on Carnegie's behalf. I hadn't read much about this. I hope Morris makes something of it in his book.

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  42. For some reason Cooper waits until page 224 before he gives an illustration of the distinction between warrior & priest:

    Roosevelt (warrior) ~ Wilson (priest):

    ''One is reminded of Nietzsche's distinction ... the Warrior with all his natural strength & virility exults ... in will to power ... the Priest reserves a special loathing ... is not the frank, straightforward ... but devious crafty intellect ... by embellishing weakness with the holy glow of enlightenment and Christian virtues.''

    TR was straight from the shoulder, Wilson, more of a political canard clothed in the white robes of moral rectitude. This is something the author should have declared as the book's thesis in the preface.

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  43. I thought Cooper did allude to Nietzsche early on. Certainly the Warrior and the Priest reference was picked up on time and again throughout the book.

    Cooper gives a very different view of TR than Morris does in his book. Cooper plays up TR's immense ego and how it hurt him considerably in his later years. The whole business of holding out on the Republican nomination in 1912 and then making it appear he was ready to lead the Progressives when it seems he was even more reluctant to embrace their ideological causes than he was initially in challenging Taft for the nomination. Morris says it was the "realist" in Teddy that held him back, but Cooper seems to feel it was more a man determined to have his own way, waiting for that propitious moment when he could set the terms of his candidacy entirely. It seems he would have had that opportunity to lead the Republicans once again in 1920 but time ran out on him.

    I thought Cooper was fair in his criticism of TR. Essentially, he viewed him as an autocrat. He notes that TR battled for control of the American electorate, but that the electorate wasn't ready or fully willing to embrace his vision. In many ways, Americans prefered the more passive Wilson, who seemed to embrace a broader democracy than did TR.

    Cooper notes how Wilson effectively brought the Democrats together by consensus, not force of will, and was able to siphon off Progressive and Republican support by his "collegiate" approach. He notes Wilson's masterly crafted speeches that appealed to Americans in ways TR couldn't reach. TR relied heavily on his personality to carry him on the stump, although Cooper acknowledges the speeches in which TR was effectively able to communicate his ideas.

    Really fascinating study of two approaches and how they came to shape American politics profoundly. In his closing chapter he notes how FDR tried to bridge these two in his administration, having had the most intimate knowledge of how both men worked.

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  44. I thought Cooper did allude to Nietzsche early on. Certainly the Warrior and the Priest reference was picked up on time and again throughout the book.

    Cooper gives a very different view of TR than Morris does in his book. Cooper plays up TR's immense ego and how it hurt him considerably in his later years. The whole business of holding out on the Republican nomination in 1912 and then making it appear he was ready to lead the Progressives when it seems he was even more reluctant to embrace their ideological causes than he was initially in challenging Taft for the nomination. Morris says it was the "realist" in Teddy that held him back, but Cooper seems to feel it was more a man determined to have his own way, waiting for that propitious moment when he could set the terms of his candidacy entirely. It seems he would have had that opportunity to lead the Republicans once again in 1920 but time ran out on him.

    I thought Cooper was fair in his criticism of TR. Essentially, he viewed him as an autocrat. He notes that TR battled for control of the American electorate, but that the electorate wasn't ready or fully willing to embrace his vision. In many ways, Americans prefered the more passive Wilson, who seemed to embrace a broader democracy than did TR.

    Cooper notes how Wilson effectively brought the Democrats together by consensus, not force of will, and was able to siphon off Progressive and Republican support by his "collegiate" approach. He notes Wilson's masterly crafted speeches that appealed to Americans in ways TR couldn't reach. TR relied heavily on his personality to carry him on the stump, although Cooper acknowledges the speeches in which TR was effectively able to communicate his ideas.

    Really fascinating study of two approaches and how they came to shape American politics profoundly. In his closing chapter he notes how FDR tried to bridge these two in his administration, having had the most intimate knowledge of how both men worked.

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  45. I thought Cooper did allude to Nietzsche early on. Certainly the Warrior and the Priest reference was picked up on time and again throughout the book.

    Cooper gives a very different view of TR than Morris does in his book. Cooper plays up TR's immense ego and how it hurt him considerably in his later years. The whole business of holding out on the Republican nomination in 1912 and then making it appear he was ready to lead the Progressives when it seems he was even more reluctant to embrace their ideological causes than he was initially in challenging Taft for the nomination. Morris says it was the "realist" in Teddy that held him back, but Cooper seems to feel it was more a man determined to have his own way, waiting for that propitious moment when he could set the terms of his candidacy entirely. It seems he would have had that opportunity to lead the Republicans once again in 1920 but time ran out on him.

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  46. I thought Cooper was fair in his criticism of TR. Essentially, he viewed him as an autocrat. He notes that TR battled for control of the American electorate, but that the electorate wasn't ready or fully willing to embrace his vision. In many ways, Americans prefered the more passive Wilson, who seemed to embrace a broader democracy than did TR.

    Cooper notes how Wilson effectively brought the Democrats together by consensus, not force of will, and was able to siphon off Progressive and Republican support by his "collegiate" approach. He notes Wilson's masterly crafted speeches that appealed to Americans in ways TR couldn't reach. TR relied heavily on his personality to carry him on the stump, although Cooper acknowledges the speeches in which TR was effectively able to communicate his ideas.

    Really fascinating study of two approaches and how they came to shape American politics profoundly. In his closing chapter he notes how FDR tried to bridge these two in his administration, having had the most intimate knowledge of how both men worked.

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  47. ''allude to Nietzsche early on''

    You are correct in that he did allude to it ~ but he should have given a fuller definition and explication in the preface. Or so I thought.

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  48. suffragettes did not love Wilson:

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/ca/Suffragette_banner_carried_in_picket_of_the_White_House.jpg/426px-Suffragette_banner_carried_in_picket_of_the_White_House.jpg


    http://www.old-picture.com/american-legacy/011/Suffragettes-Protest-White-House.htm

    http://s1.hubimg.com/u/3463196_f520.jpg

    http://s1.hubimg.com/u/3463048_f520.jpg



    Roosevelt's relationship with suffragettes was more cordial:

    http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/h?ammem/papr:@field%28NUMBER+@band%28trmp+4174%29%29

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  49. Interesting how TR & WW had a different outlook on the Monroe Doctrine. Both used it to expand USA influence with TR using it as an excuse to spread military interventionism in Latin America & Wilson as a foundation for the League of Nations.

    ''The nations of the world should adopt the Monroe Doctrine with one accord ... these are American principles. American policies. We stand for no other.''

    p 313

    But as Cooper wrote, WW had ''conflicting ideals'' in that he professed a love for peace while promoting a war, the use of conscription, and compliance in suppressive Palmer raids.

    But TR had his own conflicts in that while he urged reform and progressivism, he didn't exactly push for those reforms. Further, while condemning materialism, he did nothing to actually 'wean' his party away from its profiteering [p 189]. Still his influence over FDR led him to say, ''the falsity of material wealth as the standard of success ...lies not in the possession of money.'' Instead, like TR, he believed that success was measured in terms of nationwide progress. [p 351]

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  50. I think TR's biggest problem was his visceral hatred for persons like Wilson. It blinded him to the policies of Wilson (many of which were his own) and essentially stopped him from playing any significant role in policy making from 1912 onward.

    He may have liked to think he forced Wilson into the War with all his catcalling from The Outlook and later Kansas City Star, but when Wilson finally did plunge the US into the war, Roosevelt was on the outside looking in. Wilson had more respect for Taft than he had Roosevelt, giving the former President a relatively significant role in the war. Wilson also gave Hoover his first major appointment. Roosevelt had to live the war out vicariously through his sons.

    I've always thought the WWI exposed the ugly side of Roosevelt. He seemed so anxious to relive his glory at San Juan that he lost all perspective of the events as they unfolded. Wilson managed to keep his perspective even when reluctantly calling American troops into action, refusing to see the war on heroic terms, but rather tragic terms, and that out of the war he hoped to forge a League of Nations, which ironically Roosevelt had first broached in a speech that predated Wilson's call for such a league.

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  51. Suffragettes initially supported Roosevelt in the 1912 election, while Wilson held out on universal suffrage. However, Wilson was eventually forced to capitulate on his famous speech in which he announced World War I was a war for democracy. The 19th amendment was eventually ratified in 1919, the year my mother was born.

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  52. p 262 ~ Too little is mentioned re the suppressive Palmer Raids. Cooper indicates Wilson ''knew nothing of and did not approve'' of Palmer's actions which seem far fetched to me. On p 340 he indicates Wilson was seriously ill at that time [autumn, 1919]. Yet, he was active enough to engage in international dealings with European officials. Several newspapers reported these unfortunate incidents on a daily basis. Therefore, it is very difficult to believe Cooper's account of the Palmer Raids and Wilson's ignorance of the actions and their legal ramifications.

    I mean, after all, how can you be dealing with European officials, telling them we want peace and universal brotherhood, begging them for their help in thus honorable quest, then beating up and exporting unwanted people, and then shoving these unfortunates on the door steps of those same European officials whose approval you are seeking?

    Baffling to say the least.

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  53. You both make this book sound so interesting, I wish I could join in. I will definitely read it at some point.

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  54. I don't think Cooper followed the intricacies of WWI very closely. Seemed he more kept to Roosevelt's and Wilson's ideological positions.

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  55. ''ideological positions''

    Cooper's bottom line appears to be that both TR & WW had essentially the same ideological outlooks. Both are largely responsible for the political and international interventionist policies that marked USA politics starting with FDR. The difference being TR's forthright manner which contrasts with WW's subtleties. The means may have been different but the ends were the same.

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  56. ^ I believe this is my final comment on Cooper. Am still awaiting news of my request for Morris but the library indicated nothing new. Hopefully, something will turn up soon.

    :)

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  57. Trippler, the Morris book isn't officially released until November 23.

    One of my college jobs was as a "cataloger" for the local library. It took awhile to get a book into circulation, but with everything electronic now, it might be faster. And there might be extra incentives to rush the process with some of these big books.

    Nice that you are at the top of the list, though!

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  58. I think theirdifferences were much more profound, trip. You didn't find the closing chapter interesting where Cooper outlined how the Democrats and Republicans essentially reversed positions on foreign policy, with the Dems become the internationalists and the Republicans the isolationists, including Roosevelt, who backtracked on most of his earlier positions.

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  59. Essentially, Wilson wanted "peace without victory." With all the countries involved in WWI remaining relatively strong he figured he could argue for a League of Nations that didn't assess punitive measures on any one nation, i.e. Germany. He felt Britain was just as guilty of international violations as Germany.

    Roosevelt wanted to bring Germany, Turkey and the Austro-Hungarian Empire to its knees. He wanted America to push itself forward as a global power by firmly linking itself with its stalwart allies, Britain and France, ignoring their own international violations.

    This is a very profound difference and history essentially bore out Wilson's worst fears that a defeated Germany would present long term problems. The punitive measures brought against Germany handicapped its economic redevelopment from the start, and left an emotional scar that ultimately led to WWII.

    Not to condone the actions of Germany that led to the war, but as Cooper noted, Roosevelt didn't have that much interest in Belgium initially. Only when he saw it as a way to discredit Wilson did he harp on it ad nauseum in his magazine articles. Same with the U-boat incidents. You can bet the US would have done pretty much the same in a similar position.

    Cooper argues that Roosevelt's legacy of Great Power Politics went a long way toward shaping American foreign policy. Wilson also favored a strong international role for the US, but saw a League of Nations on more or less equal terms, and that small countries had as much right to be heard as large countries. Something Roosevelt strenuously objected to. He was essentially "colonialist" in view.

    In a nutshell, this competing views became the prototypes for Republican and Democratic foreign policy in the 20th century.

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  60. They also differed profoundly on leadership roles. Roosevelt was essentially an autocrat. Not that he didn't seek counsel or understand the intricacies of government, but essentially he played by his own rule book and tried to bend the nation toward his will.

    Wilson sought a more "collegiate" approach, educating the public through his well-crafted speeches and seeking consensus among his cabinet and in Congress. He felt the programs he promoted, most of which had already been proposed, were bigger than himself, and that he was more or less a facilitator in the process.

    He did not see legislation or war in heroic terms, as Roosevelt did. He seemed to take a more naturalistic approach to government and foreign policy.

    Very telling was his comment on the Congressional rejection of the League of Nations. He didn't want it to be "his" creation but rather something the American people understood and accepted on their own terms.

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  61. I came away from this book with much more respect for Wilson that I previously had and will look for a more meaty biography on him than the Presidential series book I have, which was written by Brands. Wilson's racist views were a big turn off for me in the past, but Cooper makes Wilson very compelling as a leader.

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  62. ''differences were much more profound''

    Differences there were, but the view I got was that the biggest difference was in the means of achieving their goals. Still, the notion of getting involved in foreign affairs was one not to the interests of the USA majority. This is why the 'return to normalcy' took hold and brought in Harding. This is something neither TR nor WW would have happily accepted.

    As for Wilson's racism, whenever I think of him invariably the thought of Thomas Dixon and his book ''The Klansman'' comes to mind. Dixon was an unabashed racist and Wilson's best friend. When WW is referred to as 'priest' I am forced to chuckle considering his views -- that is, his true views -- on race.

    http://www.amazon.com/Clansman-Historical-Romance-American-History/dp/0813101263


    Note also how so many historians and biographers stand as clear from this issue as they possibly can.

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  63. Cooper ends with the proposition that had Roosevelt lived and Wilson not been sidelined with a stroke, we probably would have never had Harding or Coolidge. The Republicans were ready to accept TR once again and had Wilson been healthy enough to more actively champion the League of Nations, I think America probably would have been more willing to accept an internationalist role. But, as it was the two leading spokesmen for internationalism were effectively removed by 1920, paving the way for the decadent 20s when selfish materialism became the norm and progressivism faded into the background, not to be revived until 1932.

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  64. http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_OQAiMcEXtec/TDq-L5iwcvI/AAAAAAAAC6g/oaqOW-7rXCI/s1600/image0-12.jpg

    http://edisoneffect.blogspot.com/2010/07/why-we-are-at-war-book-of-speeches-by.html

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  65. Cooper commented on many of Wilson's war speeches, but it would be interesting to read them and draw one's own conclusions.

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